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The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Growth, Chief Audu Ogbeh, speaks on a broad vary of points within the sector affecting the Nigerian economic system on this interview with Okechukwu Nnodim
There may be apprehension of looming famine in Nigeria. What’s the authorities doing about this?
We wish to put it fairly clearly that there isn’t a hazard of famine within the nation, completely not. The federal government is not going to permit that to occur. We’re already taking steps to make it possible for Nigerians don’t undergo any such harrowing expertise. There was some panic over the large buy of grains from lots of the huge grain producing fields in some elements of the nation. This worry was highlighted by Emirs and chiefs within the North, who met with us final week and raised the identical nervousness. It’s true that for the primary time in our historical past, we’re witnessing the extraordinary buy of our grains into the West, North and Central Africa. We’re even getting calls for from so far as Namibia; they’re asking for grains in giant portions of as much as 37,000 tons of maize.
Don’t you see this as a difficulty able to posing severe problem within the sector?
It is a problem which is nice. It’s good as a result of it now proves that Nigerian farmers have a marketplace for their produce and are creating wealth greater than they’d ever made earlier than. And they’re saying this with their very own mouths to us that they’re getting richer. So it’s a good factor, though the demand by our neighbours is placing stress on native provide. We’re nonetheless conscious and assured that that is the market economic system and we is not going to intrude with the buying and selling. However we’re putting in ample mechanism to retailer sufficient in our silos. So there isn’t any cause for us to panic. We have now 33 silos websites throughout the nation with a complete capability of almost 2.5 million tons of grains. And we’re shopping for at a time when it’s higher to purchase as a result of the grains will likely be allowed to dry fairly nicely to a moisture stage of solely thirteen per cent. Should you retailer at greater moisture stage, the grains would go unhealthy within the luggage which you pack them as a result of they’ll develop moulds. And the mould produces aflatoxins, which is unhealthy.
So that is the very best time to purchase. I do know folks have purchased and saved up, hoping that costs will hit the sky and they’re going to make earnings however we’re shopping for and so Nigerians don’t have any motive to panic. We’re shopping for in the identical market the place patrons from different international locations purchase from. The great factor is that those that purchase for the federal government know what to do and so they go in there to purchase identical to all people else. We met with among the conventional rulers who additionally expressed nervousness. However as soon as we enter the market, we now have methods of attending to the sellers who’re our farmers earlier than the foreigners can get to them.
Apart shopping for and storing in warehouses or silos, are you working with state governments so as to maintain meals safety throughout the nation?
Now we have made preparations with some governors to return once more and begin planting even earlier than Christmas. They’re planting millet, maize and sorghum in order that we will have a second crop season by March and April subsequent yr. That is the tactic we’re making use of now as a substitute of ready for the wet season alone to help our grain manufacturing and our agriculture typically. Meals needs to be produced all-12 months spherical by way of irrigation. This additionally leads us to a brand new programme we’re putting in for the development of dams and lakes all through the nation within the subsequent two years so that there’s water. And it will be certain that whoever desires to develop something can achieve this. Normally, irrigated farming is superior to farming that’s reliant on rainfall as a result of you’ll be able to management the water in-take and the crop does higher than when there may be extreme water. So all of that’s a part of the scheme we’re setting up. Additionally, we now have had some help from the Arab Financial institution for Financial Growth in Africa, because it has sponsored (the development of) small lakes and dams. In Oyo, Ogun, Kaduna a
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